The Damaging Effects of Sleep Apnea
At Sonoran Dental Design, our experienced dentists take a truly comprehensive approach to the oral and overall physical health of our patients. At our practice, we offer many general dentistry services geared toward preserving our patients’ oral and general health, including care for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of people. Sleep apnea not only compromises the amount and quality of a person’s sleep, but also has many negative effects on the body. Here, we discuss how sleep apnea affects the body, and the treatments that are available to our Scottsdale, AZ patients.
How Sleep Apnea Affects the Body
Snoring is a habit that can bother the snorer and anyone else sharing a room with him or her. What you may not know is that snoring can be a sign of a much more serious problem. Often, snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea prevents the body from taking in adequate oxygen while a person sleeps. This condition causes frequent waking throughout the night, compromises the quality of sleep a person gets, and can increase the risk of several medical problems. Below are some of the medical conditions that have been linked to sleep apnea:
- High blood pressure: Sleep apnea can increase blood pressure and may make high blood pressure more difficult to control for those who already suffer from the condition.
- Heart disease, heat attack, and stroke: Sleep apnea limits oxygen intake and waking up frequently places excess stress on the heart, both of which increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Type 2 diabetes: Studies show that roughly 80 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes also suffer from sleep apnea.
- Adult asthma: Sleep apnea is common among adults suffering from asthma. Studies suggest that those who treat sleep apnea are likely to suffer from fewer asthma attacks.
- Weight gain: Patients who are overweight are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Similarly, those who suffer from sleep apnea are prone to weight gain and will have a more difficult time shedding pounds.
- Persistent fatigue: Sleep apnea prevents people from reaching the deepest level of sleep, known as REM. This results in persistent fatigue, which can slow down response times, decrease alertness and productivity, and impair memory and cognitive functions.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Our dentists can perform an exam to help diagnose sleep apnea. We will look down the throat to examine the soft palate and uvula area. We will rate this tissue on a four-point scale (those with a rating of a three or four are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea). After examining this area, we will also discuss with our patients their quality of sleep, how many hours of sleep they get each night, and whether or not they snore. If it is likely that a patient suffers from sleep apnea, we will recommend further evaluation.
Dental care can actually be very helpful in treating sleep apnea. We can provide patients with a custom mouth appliance that properly aligns the mouth and jaw to open up a person’s airways. This increases a patient’s oxygen intake and controls sleep apnea.
Schedule an Appointment
If you suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. This condition puts extreme stress on the body and can have a negative effect on overall physical health. To learn how our experienced dentists can help you combat obstructive sleep apnea, schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.